This is the time of year when some folks come out with their “anti- Christmas tree” rhetoric because they think the Bible forbids Christmas trees based on Jeremiah 10:3-5.
Well, Jeremiah 10 is not referring to Christmas trees and if this bursts the bubble of any of my anti-Christmas tree friends just know it’s gonna be OK and I am not a pagan if I have one up because I enjoy Christmas decorations.
Not everyone is in over-kill mode, some people really do enjoy Christmas with a pure heart because to the pure in heart everything is pure (Titus 1:15).
But what about Jeremiah 10:3-5, doesn’t it forbid Christmas trees? No it doesn’t.
First of all, there was no such thing as a Christmas tree in Jeremiah’s day. Secondly, it’s not the act cutting down and decorating of a tree that Jeremiah is addressing. It is the making of an actual idol (for worship) from the tree which is then decorated (after the idol has been carved) that Jeremiah is referring to. Those who cut down the trees in Jeremiah 10 first have it fashioned into an idol then decorated, but you won’t hear it this way from those who like to proof-text from Jeremiah 10.
Here are some other translations which bring clarity to the text that we are sometimes blind to when reading the (KJV).
For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, AND A CRAFTSMAN SHAPES IT WITH HIS CHISEL. They adorn it with silver and gold… (NIV).
Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and A CRAFTSMAN CARVES AN IDOL. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of SUCH gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good” (TNLT).
For the customs and ordinances of the peoples are false, empty, and futile; it is but a tree which one cuts out of the forest [to make for himself a god], THE WORK OF THE HANDS OF THE CRAFTSMAN with the ax or other tool. They deck [THE IDOL] with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so it will not fall apart or move around. [Their IDOLS] are like pillars of turned work [as upright and stationary and immobile as a palm tree], like scarecrows in a cucumber field; they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it possible for them to do good [and it is not in them] (THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE).
For the statutes of the peoples are vanity, For a tree from a forest hath one cut, Work of the hands OF AN ARTIFICER (a craftsman) with an axe, With silver and with gold they beautify it, With nails and with hammers they fix it, And it doth not stumble. As a palm they [are] stiff, and they speak not, They are surely borne, for they step not, Be not afraid of them, for they do no evil, Yea, also to do good is not in them (YOUNGS LITERAL TRANSLATION).
“…for the customs of the peoples are nothing. They cut down a tree in the forest; A CRAFTSMAN WORKS IT WITH HIS AXE; they deck it with silver and gold. They fix it with hammer and nails, so that it won’t move. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, it cannot speak. It has to be carried, because it cannot walk. Do not be afraid of it —it can do nothing bad; likewise it is unable to do anything good!” (COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE).